Most media seem to be describing the House vote to replace Obamacare, now expected late Friday afternoon, in traditional horse race terms.
The win or lose:
"President Trump issued an ultimatum on Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to fall in line behind a broad health insurance overhaul or see their opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act vanish, demanding a Friday vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass,” says The New York Times.
"The demand … came after a marathon day of negotiating at the White House and in the Capitol in which Mr. Trump — who has boasted of his deal-making prowess — fell short of selling members of his own party on the health plan,” the Times says.
"In a gamble with monumental political stakes, Republicans set course for a climactic House vote on their health care overhaul after President Donald Trump claimed he was finished negotiating with GOP holdouts and determined to pursue the rest of his agenda, win or lose,” says The Associated Press.
“A defeat would put the lie to the claim that the Republicans, now with full control of the executive and legislative branches, were ready to govern as a conservative party,” says Dan Balz of The Washington Post. "Failure also would undermine the idea of the president as the dealmaker in chief, for he has thrown himself into the battle with notable energy and determination, putting his own prestige on the line.”
Whatever happens on health care, we’re getting clues on the power of this president going forward.
How good is he, in fact, at making deals?
Did Trump pull the plug on further negotiations because, after working hard and being unable to get to “yes,” his patience and attention were exceeded?
Or was his decision the only sensible course, after he made concessions to the Freedom Caucus and it kept insisting on more?
Trump had agreed to the caucus' demands to strip from the bill federal health insurance requirements for basic benefits such as maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits.
But the caucus also wanted, among other things, to repeal the ban on discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions and to end provisions keeping children on a parent’s health plan until age 26.
Will the Freedom Caucus be defanged?
"If the the Freedom Caucus loses to Trump and Ryan, its power will be curtailed,” says Politico. "If it wins, the group will once again be able to dictate terms to party leaders.
"Yet this is the showdown that many mainstream GOP rank-and-file members have sought,” Politico says. "They want a fight out in the open with the Freedom Caucus — either the group votes against Trump, or it gives in.”
"The Trump-Ryan gambit may pay off,” Politico says. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said their move “certainly does” put enormous pressure on the Freedom Caucus to get behind the bill. And a handful of caucus members on Thursday night sounded like their positions were softer than they had been before.
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., a lawmaker in the undecided column, said lawmakers will feel more pressure to vote "yes" with the bill on the floor, even if they may have felt comfortable opposing it before.
On the other hand, if it’s true that the only thing Freedom Caucus members really fear is a primary challenger more conservative than themselves, do they really have anything to lose by voting against the bill?
How much does Trump himself care about a win or loss on health care? Did he get drawn into a fight in which he had little interest?
He's said for months that the safest course for the Republicans, politically, would be to do nothing and let Obamacare collapse on itself, says The Hill newspaper.
Many Republicans on Capitol Hill feel the same way, the Hill says.
“Politically, the smart thing for us to do would be to just say, ‘OK, we won’t do anything, we’ll just let Obamacare fail. If we think it’s imploding … then let it implode.’ And then we’ll step in and rescue [it],” says Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, a supporter of the bill.